Lee Swords Fishing

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Perch fishing on the Great Ouse

 An Article I wrote for the Midland Angler fishing newspaper…Gone but not forgotten!


By “trade” I think most people that have ever heard of me would think of me as an all out barbel angler that only ever fishes the river Trent and to a certain extent they would be right. I love barbel but as the old saying goes “A bit of a change is as good as a rest” and with that in mind I have found myself chasing after different species on waters that I would not normally fish.

Now lets be clear on this, not for one moment am I going to try to fool anyone into thinking that I am a  expert on Perch fishing  on the Great Ouse because I am not, in fact as far as I am aware I am not actually an expert on anything…..What I am, is a pretty good thinking angler that can transfer ideas from one species to another and from one water to another and that is a good thing in angling, more important in my opinion than being a venue or species master because it guarantees I never get bored.

It’s not all about the barbel although I do love them

So wanting to have a break from bolt rigs and boilie recipes my passion for perch was reignited. I had already caught a few 3lb’ers and even more 2’s so I wasn’t really starting from scratch but whereas most of my previous big perch had been the result of opportunistic fishing (Switching over from maggot feeder to minnow feeder on the Trent….Try it, seriously) or fluked fish that had taken small lives intended for pike these fish that I was now to be chasing, were going to be specifically targeted.

No “bolt action” needed!


Success came slowly and was hard earned; it was soon apparent that perch hated resistance of any type and quickly ejected baits they were suspicious of yet once a few rules were found and adhered to it quickly became apparent that big perch were far more widespread than most would give them credit for.

Lightweight perch bobbins needed to be made rather than purchased

The Carp pool methods of pellet and paste method feeders and floating poles that have proliferated over the last few years has given them an almost impervious cloak of invisibility because you simply will not catch them like that and the explosion of small silverfish that often accompanies these waters an almost limitless larder of tasty little snacks! But I digress this article is not about the huge perch that I believe proliferate on man made still waters (That is a whole different kettle of fish…. Or should that be puddle of fish? And maybe even another article, hey Tom? ) but their wild and often just as fat brothers and sisters!

So with this seasons campaign starting well on our northern waters with a fine fat 3lb 6oz fish being my first Perch landed soon to be followed by another big 2 and then further backed up with more fish to 2lb 15oz. My fishing partner Martin Womble and myself decided to stretch our wings and get ourselves a bit further “darn sarf” to see if we measured up to the rotund southern versions of our quarry and their erudite palates.

A “Northern” fish of 3lb 6oz


Martin and Matt did a recon trip to the Great Ouse at the end of summer and both had a 3lber with Martins biggest going to 3lb 9oz and falling to live bait. Lobworm was getting monstered by the hordes of 8oz fish that seemed to be everywhere and always hungry. The crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) population also made their presence evident and the sheer size and gravity of the dilemma was highlighted to Matt and Martin when a trapper came down the stretch emptying his nets and he literally filled barrels with the things!

I caught these just for the fun of it…They are also a favourite with my Thai customers

Several months passed before a return was planned and we found that winter had cooled the water down quite nicely slowing up the smaller fish which allowed myself and Martin the use of lob-worm as our primary hook bait with bunches of dendrabaena as back up baits. Live bait especially roach had proven a very good bait in summer when small fish were a problem but it did attract the attention of the high number of small pike that also inhabited this area of the river and not wanting to incorporate wire into our rig design at the moment it was decided that worms were definitely the way to go.

Live bait attracted too much unwanted attention

Collecting the worms however was not without it problems either, being a little bit on the tight side I generally opt for the headlamp and bucket approach late at night, whereas Martin who is a bit more sensible than myself buys his at £10 per 100 no fuss no bother….I just cannot swallow paying for creatures I can pick up, however my method can end up with the collector being stopped by the police. So take my advice, if you are stopped by the police try to be patient with them when they question you….And don’t just thrust a bucket of worms in their general direction. Even girl police who are very, very scared of worms carry pepper spray and that stuff really does sting!

With worms collected we decided to fish a nice little stretch of free water that offered an endless choice of features to take advantage of. What I especially liked were the deep margins that I found not two feet away from the dense beds of dead reed and rushes. It wasn’t unusual to find five feet of water right under the rod tip and it was under the rod tip, right in amongst the snags that the baits were going to be presented…Hoping to intercept any fish that were on patrol. The bottom of the river I found to be a mixture of gravel, shale and clay with nothing in the shape of snags to worry about other than the features that we were going to be fishing towards, be they overhanging tree branches, side stream inlets, promontories of dead rushes or undercut banks.

Lots of feature to fish to…So fish to them!


The features the Great Ouse has to offer are many and varied a nice change from some of the other venues we have used this last season. So if I could get a bait tight into a feature and could manage to avoid getting snagged within the first few seconds of the fight in my books that’s pretty much “Goodnight Vienna” as far as the fish is concerned, whether the fish liked it or not if it had got a nice set of fins and a twinkle in its eye it was going to be a centerfold model in the top shelf angling papers!

The rigs I had decided I was going to use were simple running feeder rigs that cut down on resistance as much as possible by using large bore run rings and cork balls to keep the aspect of the run rings correct (another fine Matt Brown idea). The feeders (the smallest possible) were there as a means of introducing a little bit of bait in the form of chopped worm. Bait droppers could have been used I suppose but as we know this area is infested with Signal Crayfish and although they are more active in warmer weather I did not want to chance them turning up team handed and having a little crustacean coffee morning in my swim if I introduced too much chopped worm.

Bite indication needed to be spot on so that I could detect interest very quickly to avoid the problem of the fish gorging the bait and this was done by means of bite alarms and lightweight bobbins and I mean lightweight! You cannot buy the bobbins we in the DVSG use; you have to make them yourselves. They are not hard to craft and they really do give you a real advantage as they weigh almost nothing. Carp style bobbins with the comparative weight of a dead Hippopotamus will cost you fish as they are about as easy for the perch to detect as a ball and chain hanging off your line .So make an effort if you want your perch to swallow and not spit!

Long drop bobbin ready to roll!

And so it was, that on a fantastic stretch of river that held some amazing specimens and with the biggest, fattest most eelish lobworms sourced and collected the most resistant free rigs being used in conjunction with the lightest bobbins available to man it didn’t take long to get the fish interested in our bait, proof that with a little thought any angler can travel onto new waters after new species and get success quite quickly indeed.

Perch fishing on the Great Ouse

Bang Tidy!


Oooosh! 3lb 12oz!!!

The only downside ( Other than the occasional worm eating jack pike and the jambalaya/gumbo dodging signal clawed American asylum seekers ) to this entire episode was the fish that rolled off at the net which made all my three pounders rolled together look like small fish, a moment that still sticks in my throat as I had done all the hard work and was only a second or so from landing a fish that was in my opinion over 5lb’s, oh well all the more reason to try again and raise the bar even further next season.


4 Responses to “Perch fishing on the Great Ouse”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this Article, i am looking in to doing some Perch fishing when this winter weather moves on.
    I liked the idea of the really light weight bobbins and would be interested in hearing more about them if you ever feel like going in to more detail.
    I also never gave much thought to Fluorocarbon as a Hook Length, is this something you choose to use in all your fishing?

    Thanks once again

  2. Glad you enjoyed it Steph, the bobbins are easy to make and are constructed from line clips

  3. Hi, Lee.
    I admire you greatly. Why? Because in a world and a country where truth, candour, honesty and straight-talking have been re-defined to mean ‘hatred’, ‘extreme’ and ‘far right’, you join me and only a very few other people with the courage of their convictions. Like you, I have put my principles first MANY TIMES in my life AND I have suffered the consequences – but I don’t go through life as a brain-washed lap-dog, lacking in integrity. I could tell you a few stories!

    Well done on keeping up the anti-EU posts! The sheeple – or at least a great many – will be swayed on economic grounds….their pay, their tax, their holiday costs and ‘roaming charges’ – failing to see the bigger, immovable prospect of dictatorship under a EUSSR.

    I love Europe. It’s the finest region on Earth. European culture is civilized, refined, interesting, fair and compassionate – things unfathomable to the hordes we’ve literally been invaded by. But governments either don’t see this or they positively welcome this mass immigration in pursuit of a greater agenda….NWO? Who knows? But it IS deliberate and highly dangerous.

    If I were to now ask you for an article for fishingmagic you might think the foregoing was just a buttering-up, but it wasn’t I assure you – so I won’t ask you. But FEEL FREE to send me something at http://www.wheretofish.co.uk !!

    I shall be out after a Wye barbel tomorrow night and will be wearing my Geert Wilders T-shirt – let’s hope I get an excuse for a photograph!

    Cliff Hatton

  4. I know for a fact that I have flushed down the toilet any chance I have ever had of being part of the mainstream fishing industry through my rather vocal opinions, I don’t like the mild mannered approach to life, mild manners can be taken as a sign of weakness and as such generally leads to bad people taking advantage of the weak.

    I am not opening the season this year but instead waiting a few days, I will do something for you in regards to my first fishing session of the year



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